As a little girl, I lived close to the Philadelphia City National Cemetery. Limekiln Pike is the next street over, parallel to Cedar Park Avenue, where we lived. Haines Street is a block and a half down from where we lived and runs diagonally toward Limekiln Pike. To get to the cemetery, we just walked to the end of our block, turned right and walked to the next street corner, which is Limekiln Pike. You can read about this beautiful cemetery at http://www.cem.va.gov/pdf/philly.pdf.
If you search Google Maps for this cemetery, you'll see that there is a small parcel of land between where we lived and East Haines Street. When I was a little girl, this was an open, grassy area where we would go to play in the nice weather. Across the street was a Presbyterian church that had beautiful pine trees which we loved to climb. We could walk down East Haines Street to attend William Rowen Public School, but we usually didn't because the intersection to get to the school was much busier than our alternate route. Instead, we walked down 69th Avenue, crossed Ogontz Avenue, and walked down Ogontz to get to school. I loved that school!
Anyway, back to the cemetery... living so close to a national cemetery helped instill a feeling of patriotism in all the children of the neighborhood. We could hear the beating of the marching bands' drums from our homes as parades headed toward the cemetery. Since we lived so close, we could quickly get close to all the excitement and enjoy the parades. Is it any surprise that one of my favorite composers is John Philip Sousa?
I have fond memories of my childhood. I loved the neighborhood where I lived for my elementary school years. I loved my school. I loved my neighbors. Most of all I loved that we lived so close to a national cemetery that we could participate in the celebrations that honored our military heroes. There are many military heroes in my family... my father, my grandfathers, all of my uncles. No, they didn't all serve in war zones, but they did serve our country and I am proud of them all. All military personnel are heroes to me.
Every Memorial Day I am reminded of all the blessings available to my family and me because we live in this great country. Thank you to all who have served, and especially those who have sacrificed their health and their lives to keep us all free. May we never forget those sacrifices or take our freedom for granted.
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